No more bitter tea!
Does your tea taste bitter? This bitterness can leave many people thinking that they don’t enjoy tea. Although tea does have a small flavour of bitterness, it shouldn’t be offensive or unenjoyable.
Our goal here is to put an end to the bitter taste you might be drinking in your cup of tea. Instead, we want to make sure that every time you brew tea, the cup is a glorious tea flavour.
Trust us, it’s possible. We’ve got decades (… and decades) of experience as tea drinkers.
Choose high quality tea leaves
First thing’s first, if you’re choosing low-quality tea you’re going to get a low-quality brew. You can identify high-quality loose leaf tea by the look, feel and smell of the loose tea.
Regardless if it’s green tea, white tea, Oolong tea or Pu erh tea – choosing high quality tea leaves is the first step to avoiding bitter tea.
Familiarise yourself with these sensory tips to avoid the unpleasant bitter taste in your tea.
Depending on the type of tea you’re drinking, you want the tea leaves to be rich in colour and hold a rough thickness. If your loose tea looks more like a powder, then you shouldn’t be drinking it.
Tea that resembles dust is due to the build-up of tea fannings which are particles that fall off broken down and worn out tea leaves.
Fannings are tiny particles that hold the smallest fraction of flavour and nutrition compared to the full tea leaves. You will find this tea dust in low quality and mass-produced teas often sprinkled with unhealthy artificial flavours.
Although tea dust is inevitable with all tea leaves, when there’s more tea dust than tea buds it’s a sign of over-processing, poor care of the leaves and/or old tea. Tea fannings/dust play a big role in creating bitter taste in your cup of tea.
For fruit teas, make sure there’s no sign of unripe fruit and the tisane looks fresh.
When it comes to the appearance of your green tea, black tea or fruit tea, you want the loose leaf tea fresh, full-bodied and strong.
High-quality green tea or black teas should hold their shape and feel rough and course in your fingertips. Tea should not fall apart when you gently handle them.
Tea that feels soft and light or falls apart easily is usually indicative that your brew will produce a bitter tea. Tea that holds their shape when they sit in your hand will have a bolder and fuller flavour.
When purchasing your tea ask the supplier whether they can show you the loose leaf. This will allow you to inspect the quality, and assess whether it will produce a bitter tea or will taste good.
Although small, your teabag should offer a delectable aroma. When you hold up the tea leaves to your nose you should be able to experience the natural smell of the leaves. Whilst green tea will have a grassy and fresh aroma, black tea will smell earthy with a light sweetness.
If all you can smell is the tea bag (or the packaging the tea leaves come in), then your tea isn’t fresh or at its peak. If your tea smells overpowering and sweet, the tea leaves could have artificial ingredients and could be unhealthy to drink.
Being aware of the scent of your tea leaves can help you in distinguishing which ones are going to offer the best brew.
Once you have chosen your tea leaves… it’s time to brew!
Brewing correctly is essential in bringing out the right flavours of your tea. If done incorrectly, it could leave you with a very unpleasant cup. One tea farmer even admitted… “I know when I first tried it I thought it tasted like sticks and bugs. A lot of that was just due to not knowing how to make it and probably not knowing what a good green tea is.”
Some people enjoy the ease of dunking a teabag in hot water and getting on with the day yet, this system isn’t fool proof and can result in that astringent bitterness we want to avoid. When brewing your tea consider these factors to make your chosen cuppa…
Whilst some teas respond well to boiling water (e.g. English Breakfast and Earl Grey) other teas are more sensitive (e.g. Gunpowder Green and Peppermint). Different brewing temperatures will produce a different tea flavor. Brewed properly and you will be delighted with the perfect cup.
When you purchase your tea it should come with a recipe, this recipe will guide you on what the tea prefers.
The water temperature plays an important part in your tea. Generally, green teas will prefer 80 degree water whilst black tea and tisanes can be brewed at 100 degrees. Cooler water can bring out not enough flavour in your tea. Overly hot water can be too harsh and produce a bitter tea. It’s important to find the perfect temperature.
With every purchase of Pure Tea’s tea range we give an easy to follow recipe card. The recipe card gives you all the steps to brewing tea. Check your card to find out what water temperature to use.
In addition to this, check the water source for your tea brewing. Using filtered water will offer a more flavoursome and cleaner tea that is free from the nasties that hide in tap water. Not everyone has access to filtered water but if you do, it’s definitely worth the switch.
The ratio of tea leaves to water can be subjective depending on which tea you choose as well as the flavor you prefer.
Begin with 1 teaspoon to every 240ml of water. This is a standard recipe that is enjoyed by the majority of tea drinkers. If you prefer your tea stronger add no more than a ½ teaspoon more at a time. Adding too much will result in a very dark tea that is overpowering and will give you a bitter flavor.
Steeping is the amount of time the tea leaves are left in the hot water. Steeping tea leaves for too long can result in bitterness yet not long enough will result in a lack of flavour. All tea leaves have a sweet spot when it comes to steeping and it’s the tea supplier’s job to know where that sweet spot is.
Teas have been made differently and therefore have a different recipe for brewing. Again, refer to your Pure Tea recipe card if you’re unsure.
For green teas that are brewed at 80 degrees we recommend steeping for 3 – 4 minutes. For black teas that are brewed at 100 degrees we recommend 2 – 3 minutes. Herbal teas are more flexible due to them generally not having true tea leaves (Camellia Sinensis) present in their blend.
Over steeping is when you leave the tea leaves or the tea bag in the cup for too long. Everyone can relate to this, quickly pouring the hot water into the cup, forgetting to pull out the tea leaves at brew time. This is a common problem that will make tea taste bitter.
Improperly stored tea can also result in tea bitterness. Avoid the bitter taste and make sure your tea is stored properly.
Whether it be green tea or black tea – tea leaves are very delicate and very sensitive to the environment. Tea leaves enjoy stable environments to hold onto the tea quality.
Tea must be stored in an airtight container to protect the tea leaves from changing weather conditions, strong odours and air moisture. You will also want to keep your teas in separate containers.
Green tea, black tea or Oolong tea – which to choose?
There’s so many different teas to choose from. You walk into a store and there will be a whole wall covered in different tea boxes and tea bags. It can feel overwhelming trying to decide which tea will be right for you.
There’s only one true way to find your favourite tea – by taste!
Choose a variety of teas and spend an afternoon brewing, tasting and comparing. You will find some teas have honey or fruit notes, others might have more tannins and produce a naturally bitter flavor, and then there will be those teas that taste just right (as Goldilocks would say).
Pick a few teas from your local tea supplier and get brewing!
Life’s too short for bitter tea.
Unfortunately you can’t fix bitter tea, but you can make a better cup! By following these tips and tricks you will never have to drink a bitter cup of tea again.
If you’re still struggling to stop bitterness, take your brewing one step at a time. Follow the recipe card on the front of your Pure Tea tea bag and enjoy the process.
Practice makes perfect, so put that kettle on and get your cup ready! You’ve got some tea to drink.
Let us know if you have any more questions on how to fix bitter tea or, bitter tea in general. We’re here to make your life easier (and more delicious) one cuppa at a time.